Behind the seams of Lindiwe’s killer fashion on ‘The River’

Fans of this telenovela weren’t keen on the leading lady’s onscreen looks at first, admits costume designer Kgomotso Dipholo

Behind the seams of Lindiwe's killer fashion on 'The River'

Since it first hit screens in 2018, Mzansi Magic’s The River has become one of the most talked about telenovelas in SA.

This addictive mining drama is also the show that scooped up the most accolades at this year’s South African Film and Television Awards — including the Best Wardrobe and Best Make-up and Hairstyling prizes for a TV soap.

At the centre of many of the show’s deliciously twisted plotlines is Lindiwe Dlamini-Dikana, a character played by Sindi Dlathu. Lindiwe is a smart, fierce mining magnate who is always dressed to kill thanks to The River’s costume designer, Kgomotso Dipholo.

We asked Dipholo to take us behind the seams of Lindiwe’s wardrobe, and share some insight into how she uses fashion to amplify the character’s personality on screen:

How would you best describe Lindiwe’s style?

Drama on two legs.

Run us through what goes into putting Lindiwe’s wardrobe together.

Her dresses usually depict where the story is going or even her mood in a particular scene. It’s not just about putting her in an outfit because it looks nice, it’s about her telling a story. Our audience will even notice that certain items mean she is going to kill someone.

What would you say is the most iconic ensemble for the character?

Well, we’ve had a lot because she dresses to kill most of the time. But one that I love is the Xhosa attire she wore for Zolani and Tumi’s white wedding. It said, “I am here, I am a powerful black woman, I am stylish and I am all about my roots”.

Behind the seams of Lindiwe's killer fashion on 'The River'

What key elements define the character’s style?

One of her biggest fashion signatures are her big sleeves and big collared shirts.

How has the audience reacted to Lindiwe’s distinctive style?

When we started out, big sleeves and the big collars were not a thing, and did they not have me on Twitter? I even stopped going online because I knew they were going to crush me. There were even tweets about her looking like an apostolic church woman.

I wanted to create a character that was different and that you would look forward to seeing not just because of their acting but because of what they are wearing.

Two years down the line people are on board with the big sleeves and Lindiwe’s style.

Who are some of the designers who have created items for Lindiwe?

One person that I work with a lot is Sello Medupe of Scalo; we also worked with Gert-Johan Coetzee for Tumi’s wedding.

Many people would like to dress for the office in the same way Lindiwe does. Do you have any tips for doing so?

Office work is already boring enough, so I say be bold. Step out of the ordinary and go big so that when you look at those mountains of files you know you can dig into them.

Lindiwe, the character, has limitless money but in reality we are a production with a budget. So, I try to go for pieces that you can dress up or down without it being a mission.

• To see more of Lindiwe’s drop-dead gorgeous looks, catch ‘The River’ on Mzansi Magic (DStv channel 161).

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